Staff gathered one week after the final suitcase clambered down Hillcrest's stairs, wheels clanking on each stair in a parting goodbye to Hillcrest's halls that now hold echoes of students' voices from the 2016-17 school year. Staff sat around a table, some sunburned from afternoon naps outside done in recovery of a graduation weekend that held little sleep, to share what God had done in 2016. The gathering was a conscious move to turn attention from what God had done to what God is calling Hillcrest to do.

Testimonies of God's work were now memories condensed to single words on the whiteboard. Hayley's testimony chapel, choir tour, the dominican mission trip were a set of phrases that held more eternal significance than the board gave them credit for. The conversation continued to draw faculty down a path to where students were struggling, and what was God calling the staff to. 

Hebrews 10:14-18 is read. Time is spent thinking of the testimony of the Holy Spirit, calling attention back to Jeremiah where the first focus is on God's covenant that is made complete in God's perfect fulfillment of his promise. There is a call to bring students back to the basics.

Staff spent the next hour and a half identifying the basics of the faith that need to be addressed for students. The creation, fall, redemption, and restoration are brought out as a rhythm students should experience in the coming chapel program, birthing the theme for the 2017-18 school year.

Hillcrest's 2017-18 theme phrase is Square One. From the faculty and staff meeting Ryan and Amy Garvin have worked with Sam Ihrke, Hillcrest's chaplain, to organize a cohesive theme. Creative help from Hillcrest's graphic designer, Amanda Porritt, and Hillcrest's marketing director, Wayne Stender, have built a structure that will house the theme and it's communication for the coming year.

From the many meetings there is a focus to have students and staff discover, and rediscover, the cohesiveness and comprehensiveness of the Biblical perspective. Starting with creation students will see that the Christian perspective is the most humane and logical explanation for the universe. They will also see the design, structure, and organization God placed into the universe to reflect and honor his character.

Students will enter the second quarter of the school year looking at the fall. Sin has tainted God's design, many students know this full well. Understanding the brokenness of the world will be important as the second quarter theme rests in the Christmas season, having opportunity to feel the full weight of the fall in God descending to earth as a baby in a lowly manger.

In the third quarter students and staff will see the redemption that is found in God's work on the cross. Stories and testimonies shared during this time of the school year will draw attention to God's design, his promise and covenant in the midst of the fall, while focusing the direction of the school year to a state of redemption found only in Jesus Christ.

The year will end with the fourth quarter, focusing on the restoration of God's design. Students will find purpose in the Easter season as we highlight the resurrection. From here, students will see the freedom found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Understanding God's design in his plan, moving from creation, to man's fall, to Christ's redemptive work, students will understand basics of God's purpose in indwelling in man through the Holy Spirit. This divine mystery will drive students to graduation, where a fifth component will be introduced, that of going out and telling the world the basics of Christianity, sharing hope, purpose, design, and freedom found in Jesus Christ.

The details of the theme are still being worked out. However, the scaffold for the school year has been set as staff, parents, and students have prayed and offered input into some of the most significant needs from Hillcrest's student body. We ask that you would continue to pray that the Lord would bring students who are hungry to grow in their understanding of the Lord to Hillcrest Academy. 

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